If there was a mantra we could use to sum up the beauty ethos of 2020, it would be, “skincare first, makeup second” and we’re carrying this beauty ethos right into 2021. We know all too well that skincare, nutrition, hydration, and sleep are the key elements for healthy-looking skin. Yet, we can’t be perfect in all those areas, all the time. Dare we say that, somedays, we wake up having neglected all four of the above. That’s where clean foundation comes in. Made for the days when we want to reach for a little something extra to help us take on the day.
Thankfully, there are now numerous beauty brands with squeaky clean foundation formulas. The best part? They feel like skin care.
Applied sparingly, with a texture that sinks luxuriously into skin, these five clean foundations are more in line with the clean face oils and super serums you can find on our holistic vanities than the makeup found in the isles of deserted department stores.
What Makes A Foundation Clean?
First, let’s start with the basics: What makes a foundation clean to begin with?
Here at West of Wild, we define clean beauty by defining what it’s not. So, to make our list of clean foundations, the formula cannot contain any of the following ingredients:
- sulfates (SLS and SLES),
- formaldehyde-releasing agents,
- phthalates, mineral oil,
- retinyl palmitate,
- coal tar,
- triclosan, and
Now that we know what the clean foundations on our list don’t contain, here are some of the feel good ingredients that they do:
- Hyaluronic Acid (ILIAS)
- Squalane (ILIAS)
- Aloe (ILIAS)
- Bergamot Fruit Oil (BC)
- Rose Flower Oil (BC)
- Vanilla (BC)
- Oat Milk (EP)
- Peach (EP)
- Vitamin E (EP)
- Avocado Oil (Kosas)
- Meadowfoam Oil (Kosas)
- Rosehip Seed Oil (Kosas)
- Jojoba Oil (RMS)
- Ashwaghanda (RMS)
- Marigold (RMS)
The Best Clean Foundations with Sheer to Medium Coverage
Less than full coverage, but more than bare skin, the clean foundations that made our list give you a subtle glow-up that lets your unique beauty shine through.
ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 Foundation
SPF 40 Foundation
The Best Overall Foundation For 2021 would have to be ILIAs silky serum-esque skin tint. This medium coverage foundation feels more like the last step in your skincare routine than applying makeup. Expect compliments galore when you show up with this glow-inducing serum on your skin. Offered in 18 shades it gives just the right amount of coverage to any skin tone and ups your daily SPF by a factor of 40.
- Price: $46
- Coverage: Medium
- Skin Type: Great for all Skin types
- Highlights: SPF 40, Hyaluronic Acid, Squalane, Aloe
BeautyCounter Tint Skin Hydration Foundation
Tint Skin Foundation
We love Beauty Counter for their affordable clean beauty lineup and this medium coverage foundation is no exception. It helps to blur imperfections while providing skin with extra hydration. Expect plump, dewy skin in a flash.
- Price: $42
- Coverage: Medium
- Skin Type: Dry, Normal, Sensitive
- Highlights: Bergamot Fruit Oil, Rose Flower Oil, Vanilla
Ere Perez Oat Milk Foundation
Oat Milk Foundation
Let’s face it, we’re obsessed with anything oat milk related. Ere Perez takes our oat milk obsession to the next level with their clean foundation made for sensitive skin. The liquid-cream formula goes on sheer to even skin tone and texture.
- Price: $40
- Coverage: Sheer/Medium
- Skin Type: Sensitive
- Highlights: Oat Milk, Peach, Vitamin E
Kosas Tinted Face Oil Foundation
Face Oil Foundation
One of our favorite foundations for warm summer months or tropical locales, Kosas sheer tinted face oil has a light, silky texture and glow enhancing qualities. Rub a few drops on your palms and pat onto skin (like a serum) to bring out your inner goddess vibes.
- Price: $42
- Coverage: Sheer/Buildable
- Skin Type: Normal, Oily, Combination
- Highlights: Avocado Oil, Meadowfoam Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil
RMS “Un” Cover Up Cream Foundation
“Un” Cover Up Foundation
With the most buildable coverage of any foundation on our list, RMS’s “Un” Cover up foundation is rich and creamy. It comes in 16 shades and it’s whipped texture makes it a treat to apply.
- Price: $52
- Coverage: Medium/ Full
- Skin Type: Great For All Skin Types
- Highlights: Organic Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, Buriti Oil
How To Choose The Best Foundation For Your Skin
- Consider your skin type (I.e. dry, normal, oily, sensitive)
- Consider your undertones (warm, neutral, cool)
- Consider the season and your local climate
- Pick your perfect shade
Clean vs. Natural Foundation
Clean: Formulated without the “dirty” toxic or chemical ingredients that may be legally used in American cosmetics. Formulations generally include both natural and non-toxic synthetic ingredients.
Natural: Made with ingredients found in nature (i.e. not synthetic). These are plant, mineral, or animal products that are minimally modified.
Certifications: Products that contain at least fifty percent of plant-based ingredients may feature an Ecocert Natural Cosmetic Certification.